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Extraordinary people F

ar from being overwhelmed by the China market, Hong Kong’s film- making sector has shown extraordi- nary resilience in recent years by

turning out new directors who continue to reflect Hong Kong culture and work in Cantonese. It is a tough business — finance follows

the mainland market and expensive stars — yet new generations keep emerging. Around eight years ago, film-makers such as Pang Ho Cheung, Lee Kung Lok, Soi Cheang and Patrick Kong (aka Yip Lim Sum) began making distinctly Hong Kong-style films and carving sustainable careers. Now a new group is coming to the fore. Some credit for this must go to the

efforts of local producers who nurture new talent, including Nansun Shi, Eric Tsang and Bill Kong through his joint venture with Japan’s Avex, Irresistible Films. Gov- ernment body the Hong Kong Film Devel- opment Council has also played a role, along with the platform provided by the Hong Kong International Film Festival. However major kudos goes to those

brave souls who have stuck to their passion in a challenging financial environment. We profile 10 Hong Kong film-makers to note, who have all directed their first features in the last five years. n


Chris Chow A truly international film-maker, Chow was born in China, raised in Hong Kong and educated in the US. Renowned as a screenwriter — his credits include Fearless, Blood: The Last Vampire and John Woo’s The Flying Tigers — he made his directing debut last year with Strawberry Cliff. Backed by Irresistible Films, the English- language thriller follows a US girl who travels to Hong Kong to unravel mysteries of the afterlife. It premiered at Pusan and has distributors on board for a release in the US and China later this year. “I like to mix genre and arthouse elements, which I think works these days because we all grew up with different influences,” says Chow.

Strawberry Cliff n 12 Screen International at Filmart/HAF/HKIFF March 23, 2011 HONG KONG FILM-MAKERS TO WATCH Clement Cheng

Cheng came up with the idea for Gallants, the kung-fu tribute he co-directed with Derek Kwok (see opposite), while jamming with the movie’s 60-something star Teddy Robin. The film, about a kung-fu master who awakens from a 30-year coma to kick some butt, has been a hit with festival audiences all over the US and Europe. He has since co-directed Merry-Go-Round, a drama spanning six decades, with Yanyan Mak. Before his move into directing, Cheng worked in various production roles and scripted films including Wilson Yip’s Skyline Cruisers and Kwok’s The Moss. “Movies have a social responsibility to entertain, while at the same time deliver a message,” says Cheng, who is working on several new scripts.

A distinctive film-making culture is blooming in Hong Kong. Liz Shackleton turns the spotlight on a new generation of visionary directors

Cheung King-wai Cheung’s feature-length documentary KJ: Music And Life, about a child prodigy, won him the best new director prize at last year’s Hong Kong Film Awards and three prizes at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards. His latest work, One Nation Two Cities, about mainland immigrants, is in competition at HKIFF. “It touches on political issues but it’s really more about families and how they’ve been affected by the changes in China,” says Cheung. A former musician, Cheung studied cello in New York but graduated with a degree in film production and philosophy before returning to Hong Kong. He cites Ann Hui as a mentor and scripted her 2009 Night And Fog. Anna Wong, (852) 3741 2749

Ivy Ho A renowned screenwriter who has written for directors such as Peter Ho-sun Chan, Teddy Chen and Ann Hui, Ho made the successful transition to directing with Claustrophobia in 2008 and Crossing Hennessy, starring Jacky Cheung and Tang Wei, last year. Both films, which were backed by Irresistible Films, were romances of a realistic rather than saccharin nature, but Ho says she loves crime stories and is now working on a mystery- suspense project. “We need to look at how we can continue to do original Hong Kong stories which also work in China. I want to continue to make Cantonese films,” says Ho, who says she will also continue to write for other people.

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